Saturday, November 5, 2011

Uncharted 3 Review - Adventure Awaits

Score: 9.25 / 10
Uncharted 3
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: November 1, 2011

  • Mocap and voice performance unlike any other title
  • Engrossing visuals and set pieces
  • Enjoyable platforming and shooting segments
  • Multiplayer offers a slew of options for any type of gamer
  • Slew of unlockables keep you coming back
  • Some elements mirror Uncharted 2 in far too many ways
  • Friendly AI is more than useless in contrast to the aggressive enemy AI
  • Trial and error platforming can put a halt to some segments

Uncharted is a series that you bring with you if you were stuck on a desert island...granted, if there were electricity and HD TV on a desert island. Regardless, the series has always been akin to playing out an Indiana Jones action film. With an always stunning voice cast and even more satisfying gameplay, Uncharted 2 was critically acclaimed and snatched up Game of the Year awards left and right. The third installment is stuck in Uncharted 2's shadow, but still manages to deliver a solid experience unlike any other.

Film Meets Fandom

Uncharted's story continues the adventures of Nathan Drake. With his friend Sully and the usual cast of characters, he sets off to discover an ancient 16th century treasure, but he ends up being pulled in to an even bigger mystery centering around the ring he wears around his neck. The game dives into multiple storylines...maybe too many. His relationship with Elena, his working with Chloe again, and his background into Sully are delved into with little resolution. The plot is all over the place, but nothing so mind numbing that you fail to ignore the big picture.

Though you may be confused at times, the performances and presentation are unmatched. Visually stunning set pieces are right around every corner, with vivid lighting and textures that are jaw dropping. Nathan Fillion, Emily Rose, and Richard McGonagle are just a few of the cast that deliver flawless performances with each quip and comeback, complimented by their mocap work that breathes life into the game. Coupled with perfect camera placement and a movie quality original soundtrack, the aesthetic appeal of Uncharted is unmatched and one of the strongest features the game possesses.

It's the minor details that the game pays attention to that really bring it life. Drake places a hand on a wall as he sweeps near it, water in a swaying cruise ship sloshes back and forth, and even subtle footprints left behind in the sand are the polish the series is known for, and it is very much present in this game.

Single Playa

Uncharted is known for a stellar campaign, and the third installment is no different. The gameplay varies between platforming, puzzles, and cover based shoot outs. The constant shuffle and added variables keep the game fresh and exciting, as there is something new around each corner that keeps you guessing.

Much like the previous installments there are moments in that game that are so incredible that you wish to replay them immediately. A particular level has you trying to escape a burning chateau, fighting off baddies as you watch flame consume the walls around you. The highlight of the game had to be the cruise ship, in which you could actively view the entire ship flooding before your eyes. These moments were not only technical marvels, but incredibly fun and satisfying moments.

Then there is the undeniable truth; the campaign never really surpasses Uncharted 2's stellar single player. Many elements of the game are cut and paste mimics of the second installment, including another convoy chase, another lost city, and another similar stealth mission. Though some of the highlights mentioned above were enjoyable, only the latter half of the game really captured that Uncharted series feel. The new melee system is great, but overused; to the point of engaging a brute almost every chapter in a one on one fisticuffs. The overall pacing and feel of the game was not the caliber of previous title, and the difficulty fluctuates from being simple to overly challenging, even on normal.

Do not get me wrong, I really enjoyed the campaign for Uncharted 3 as expected, but when compared to the perfect fluidity and simplicity of the second installment it feels like a step back.

What are Friends for?

While the campaign seemed alright, the multiplayer has gotten an overhaul. Complete with new customization, co-op options, and slew of unlocks; there is something for everyone in this mode.

Competitive multiplayer modes range from the classic Team Deathmatch, to a Capture the Flag inspired Plunder mode, and King of the Hill; all of which are a blast to play. Loadouts can be chosen and changed on respawn to keep your favorite weapons at hand. It's the maps that steal the show, with some transforming from chase scenes to airstrips or the burning chateau slowly transforming an environment. No matter the mode, it's a blast to play.

The most interesting addition is the new "Power Play" feature. During the game the winning team will suddenly gain a disadvantage, and must work through it to fend off the trailing team. Such instances as marking the most advantageous player for all to see, or making the winning team see nothing but skeletons and turning friendly fire on are interesting ways to keep games close. It also prevents blowouts, as most games will be much closer in end-game scores because of the alteration. It isn't on every mode, but is a fun feature of the online multiplayer.

For the co-op crowd there are a few options to choose from. There is a co-op arena, similar to horde mode where three players fend off a number of baddies. Co-op hunter mode has teams face off against each other with NPCs halting your attempt at various objectives. Co-op adventure mode is also available, but nowhere near the fun of the previous game. Though it still contains some scripted events, each section evolves into entering a room and holding off waves of bullet sponge bad guys.

Cash Money

Included with the multiplayer is a new customization and economy. Each match will award a certain amount of cash. This can be used to unlock various characters, perks, and weapon upgrades. Like most games, this of course gives vets the advantage against any new players, especially considering how expensive each upgrade and unlock costs.

No matter the mode you play on, you have the potential to also collect treasure. Random occurrences specific to the player will allow you to grab treasure pieces to complete sets. Completing sets unlocks additional items for customization. It's a neat incentive to keep playing and try all the modes, as some treasure only appears in certain game types.

Coupled with the hidden treasure of the single player, there is plenty of incentive to keep playing after completing the game itself.


Though it is not the sequel I had imagined, Uncharted 3 is still a solid entry in the franchise.It's filled with incredible set pieces, an enjoyable story, and some of the best visual presentation to grace the PS3.

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